In a veiled attack at the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, the Congress on Wednesday said fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi's arrest in the USD 2 billion PNB scam case is an attempt by the ruling party to derive a political mileage in view of the upcoming Lok Sabha Elections 2019. Speaking to reporters, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said, "Modi government had sent Nirav Modi outside India, now it is bringing him to win elections".
"They (BJP) had only helped him flee the country and they will send him back after elections," Azad added.
Ghulam Nabi Azad, Congress on Nirav Modi arrested in London: They (BJP) had only helped him flee the country, now they are bringing him back. They are bringing him back for the elections, they will send him back after elections. pic.twitter.com/JNYGnJYlkP— ANI (@ANI) March 20, 2019
Reacting strong to BJP's claim that Nirav Modi's arrest in London is an achievement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress General Secretary for Uttar Pradesh (East) Priyanka Gandhi Vadra asked "Is this an achievement? Who allowed him to flee the country?"
Nirav Modi's arrest by London's Scotland Yard in connection with the infamous PNB scam case comes days after a London court issued an arrest warrant against him in response to a request by the Enforcement Directorate for his extradition in a money laundering case.
"Nirav Deepak Modi, 48 (Date of Birth 24.02.71), was arrested on behalf of the Indian Authorities on Tuesday, 19 March, in Holborn," the Metropolitan Police said in a statement. "He will appear in custody at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Wednesday, 20 March," it added.
The BJP government at the Centre has been recieving a wide backlash ever since a report published by a British daily The Telegraph claimed that the billionaire diamantaire was living openly in a lavish 8-million-pound apartment in London's West End and started a new diamond business in Soho.
With this, the Congress accused the Modi government of having "slept and snoozed" while Nirav Modi set up a diamond business in London after fleeing the country with the support of a firm linked to the Panama Papers. It asked the government why it could not trace him globe-trotting, despite having the resources of all the probe agencies at its disposal.
To bolster its point, the party produced a timeline of Nirav Modi's travels to several countries after he fled from India on January 1 and after revocation of his passport by the Indian government on February 23.
The party also pointed out how Nirav Modi has been able to enjoy a lavish lifestyle in London, where he was spotted on March 9 by The Telegraph team, wearing a 10,000 pound ostrich hide jacket.
(With inputs from agencies)